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Effective interrogation techniques

Hesiod at Counterspin Central reports about a TV program he saw about interrogation techniques in recent history. The program gave some examples of the similarities and differences between various historical torture techniques such as those used by the Gestapo, and those used at Abu Ghraib.

But it is the story of the Germans' most effective interrogator that caught my eye:

The second example was of a Luftwaffe Corporal, Hans Joachim Scharff, who spoke perfect English. He was in charge of interrogating downed American and British pilots.

His technique?

He was really nice, joked around with the prisoners, treated them well, gave them coffee and tea...and found out an absolute shitload of information from them.

You see, the pilots were all conditioned by the allies to believe that the Germans would do all sorts of horrible things to them if they were ever captured. So when their captor was a really nice and pleasant guy you could smoke a cigarette with and joke around with, they dropped their guard and gave away a lot of information inadvertently.

Amazing, huh?

He was probably the most effective interrogator the Germans had during WWII, and he was extremely humane.


Now, Scharff was the exception to the rule for German interrogators. But, he was also the most effective, and did not violate the Geneva conventions to do it.

Not to toot my own horn, but Geir and I were right about this.

Comments (1)


Tangential, but...

One of the things that has really depressed me over the last few weeks, is that methods of torture routinely employed by Gestapo (depriviation of sleep, torturous (sorry, "stressful") positions, beatings, immersion in water, etc.) now appear to be approved procedure for US forces. They even have the gall to claim it's not against the Geneva conventions. We've come a long way since 1945. Or not.


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